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Tosca: a tale of love and torture

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Money is tight at Opera Australia as rehearsals begin for Puccini's Tosca. Joan Carden has played the passionate title role many times but her two co-stars are new to the production. With only three weeks of rehearsal, not everyone is sure they will make it - least of all director Cathy Dadd and renowned Scottish conductor Roderick Brydon.

Filmmaker Trevor Graham and producer Patricia Lovell were granted no-holds-barred access to film behind-the-scenes, from day one of rehearsals to opening night at the Sydney Opera House. The result is an intimate and honest portrait of artists at work, with plenty of frustration, laughter and anger before the curtain goes up.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Opera queen heaven.

This documentary is an access-all-areas muck-raker, it includes all the bitchiness of the performing arts, the prima donas (dons, actually), the hassles, the tempers, the emotions... so many moments of naked truth that some people are gonna regret opening their mouths. It's also more than that, it's a record of the day to day operations of Opera Australia. It's also a behind-the-scenes at the Sydney Opera House, going places that most people can't even dream of going (dressing rooms, lifts that don't work, the stage door...), but more than that, it's a celebration of Tosca, a powerful and emotional work that transcends the image of opera as lots of fat people running around screaming at each other. Hmmm... sounds like Sylvania Waters.

Joan Carden is truly a diva: controlled, creative, hard-working and friendly. She fills her eponymous role with true talent. Gregory Tomlinson, the beer-drinking bloke discovered at a piss-up, as Mario Cavaradossi is young and inexperienced. Losing his leading man virginity takes its toll in a very obvious manner. Ian Vayne, the imported overseas special guest star (just like the Logies), as Baron Scarpia, is a cold fish with no idea of how Aussies do things. This is an emotional country where what you say is as important as what you do. European hauteur and reserve just doesn't work down under.

Seeing these three performers rehearsing, studying and relaxing makes for a great fly on the wall experience, as do the agonies of the crew and producers. Stickybeaks take note, heh, heh, heh.

If you like your opera and your documentaries with tantrums, passions and high drama then Tosca is the one for you.

Security censorship classification


Surveillance time

85 minutes (1:25 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

9 June 2000

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